My friends and I sang all the way from the airport to the rental car place. It was pouring rain, but we were all hoping it wouldn’t be raining by the time we arrived at the northern part of the main island – Okinawa Honto – from Naha City. Mission: drive about two hours, try out free camping in Okinawa Prefecture in the dark! So, the adventure begins!
“Okinawa, here we are!”
We’d been planning this summer vacation to Japan’s “Hawaii” for months. We all needed some time in the sun, in nature, and on the beach! Okinawa allows free-camping, meaning all you have to do is find a nice beach, set up a tent (or sleep in the car), and of course, leave it better than when you got there.
The original plan was to spend two days camping on the beach. We pulled into where the GPS had marked Okuma Beach. But, as Murphy’s Law states, anything that can happen will happen, and as it so happens, it poured rain all night the first night… So, sleeping in the car it was! And it was worth it.
The cloudy sunrise the next morning revealed a beautiful coastline bathed in pinky-purple light, with mountains touching the sea one way, and more flat beach in the other. After spending all night in the car, the early morning ocean air was what I needed. The waves rolled onto the little white sandy shore sending peace, clarity, and excitement into my soul.
Close to the car was a little restroom area, with two showers that were unsurprisingly clean! Gotta love Japan!
Had fun all day sightseeing the most northern part of the main island, dodging the sporadic rain and enjoying the sun when it came out. We went to Cape Hedo, which was absolutely stunning. We jokingly said we could see the mainland from that point. When it began to rain again, we went to a cute little coffee shop named Hiro Coffee Farm and spent the afternoon chatting with the owner, drinking coffee made from beans grown on the property, petting the cats, and watching the rain. When the rain cleared we drove around the island, stopping off when we saw something interesting (like a turtle gazebo!), or beautiful (like a cliff over the ocean). We did a short hike to a waterfall,
Fukuyama Falls, to end the sightseeing for the day.
The jungle walk was incredible! At the end of the day, we got stuff for a make-shift grill for Japanese BBQ. A must-do in the summer! We went back to our little beach, I set up my tent, and we spent the evening watching the sun disappear beyond the sea.
Let me tell you, sleeping in the tent that night was so much better than the stuffy car. The sand was soft under the tent, the night air was natural air conditioning from the summer heat, and the constant roll of the waves quickly sent me off to sleep.
The next morning was glorious! The morning light awoke me early. I opened my tent flap, and there was the beautiful ocean laid as far as I could see. I faced west, so the sun was not blinding me as the new day came into being. The waves continued to roll in and I laid there and watched for a little while, letting the day start slowly before heading out. We had planned to camp for two nights only. I wished we had camped for more days. I could have done with more easy beach mornings. Especially, ones with full rainbows!
We chose to sleep in the car the first night, mostly because there did not seem to be places we could stay. Free-camping on the beach not your thing? There are still a host of unique places to stay in Okinawa.
Check out STAY JAPAN to book a stay in Okinawa and enjoy the same experience as Erin!